Juicy Refuge – Water
Oupa Sibeko, Mikki Stelder

Water can be a place of refuge, while also holding layers of violence. Water might serve as an escape route, but also always serves violent trade and border control. Scholar Mikki Stelder shares a talk about the thingification of the ocean and the shore, showing how our thinking about the ocean has been colonized.

Performance artist Oupa Sibeko will take us under water through a sonic scape and the image of a bird taking flight. This performance, PILGRIMAGE TO UHURU, first started developing in Namibia in 2017, addressing refugees taking flight to Namibia and Botswana from Zimbabwe.
Oupa Sibeko (b.1992) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work move between theatrical, gallery, scholarly and other public contexts, overtly dealing with matter and politics of the body as a site of contested works. Enabling opportunities for affective and relational encounters using ritualistic performance and play, he seeks to critically engage approaches to the body, particularly the black male body, the history of representation and the ways in which certain subjectivities have been (and are) figured, (black) pain, (black) spectacle, (black) negation, and the ethical implications of reimaging and re-enacting pain.

Sibeko was awarded a Mail & Guardian top 200 and David Koloane award in 2019. He has taken part in group and solo shows in Namibia at the National Art Gallery of Namibia, Wits TPO Gallery, Wits Art Museum, Room Gallery, Melville Art Project, Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, The Freezer Hostel and Theatre in Iceland and Art Room in Parkhurst. In 2021, Oupa graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Witwatersrand, whilst performing in various exhibitions both locally and abroad. Sibeko first performed Black is Blue at the University of Witwatersrand in 2019, then again in 2021 at Nel Gallery in Cape Town, as well as La Frische Bell di Mai in France and the National Arts Festival in Makana and currently showing at Johnson Museum in New York as part of Cornell Biennale 2022. In the beginning of 2022, he joined Berman Contemporary as an associated artist.

Mikki Stelder (they/them) is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer fascinated by the question how to write with, for, alongside, through oceans and water. They received a Marie Skłodowska Curie postdoctoral fellowship for the project Maritime Imagination: A Cultural Oceanography of Dutch Imperialism and its Aftermaths. Their work has appeared in journals such as Postcolonial Studies, Feral Feminisms, and Radical History Review. Stelder co-curates the Oceans as Archives series, which brings together scholars, artists and activists working on oceans from anticolonial, anticapitalist and feminist perspectives. They are a lecturer in gender and postcolonial studies at Utrecht University and the Sandberg Institute. Personal website: www.mikkistelder.com Blog: Finger in the Dike! Oceans as Archives: www.oceansasarchives.org